Chinese Theatre Works’ commitment to preserving and nurturing the Chinese performing arts– opera, puppetry, dance and music– are reflected in our wide selection of programs based on classical stage repertoire. These programs feature some of the finest classically trained Chinese performing artists in the New York City area, in full stage make-up and costume. Each is designed to satisfy the palates of connoisseurs while delighting general audiences.
Exploring the rich tapestry of Chinese music traditions, these programs provide an introduction to the repertoire, musical instruments and performance for both Chinese and western audiences. Performances by leading traditional musicians are performed on the Shen ( mouth organ), Guzheng (zither), Pipa (lute), Erhu (two-string fiddle), flute, percussion and other traditional Chinese instruments. Interspersed with the music are informative background material on the songs, instruments and artists.
Peking Opera and Kun Opera Programs
A great introduction to traditional Chinese stage performance for audiences of all ages. Classically trained opera performers, in full costume and make-up present excerpts from the traditional opera repertoire, such as: “Monkey King”, “The Jade Bracelet,” Farewell, My Concubine,” “Peony Pavilion” and “Legend of White Snake.” Informative background material help audiences understand the unique stage conventions, costumes, make-up, music and choreography of China’s great cultural treasure.
Regional dance specialties from the many minority peoples of China. We present a wide-ranging tour of ethnic folk dance traditions, including: the Mongolian Horse Dance, the Dai People’s Peacock Dance, the Xinjiang Dance, and the Han people’s Ribbon Dance and Handkerchief Dance.
Four Treasures (Performing Arts)
A combination of our available programs that can be designed to present a broad cross-section of traditional performing arts for general audiences. These variety programs are masterfully performed by our company of extraordinary Chinese opera actors, dancers and musicians. They include informative English language introductions to each presentation.
Current Opera repertoire
Monkey Steals the Heavenly Peaches
CTW’s presentation of a favorite episode from the classic, Journey to the West, shows off the striking traditional face-painting and elaborate silk costumes of Peking Opera, as well as the art form’s blend of martial arts, singing and dancing, and musical accompaniment. This particular episode features the great Monkey King at his naughtiest. He, has been given a job as orchard-keeper in Heaven. But when he discovers that he has not been invited to the Peach Banquet, he decided to sneak into the banquet hall and steal the wine, and peaches. Havoc ensues and Monkey gets to show off all his fighting prowess and comic chops.
A sweeping romantic tale filled with ghostly intrigue that tells the story of Du Liniang, a young maiden who falls asleep in her garden on a spring day and dreams about falling in love with a handsome scholar. After awakening, she pines for him and dies of a broken heart. She is allowed by the Judge of Hell to return to Earth as a ghost in order to try to entice her beloved to bring her back to life
Peony Pavilion is one of the great epic masterpieces of the elegant Chinese Kun-style opera. Written by Tang Xian Zu during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the original, in its entirety, spans 55 acts performed over 22 hours. CTW’s program presents two of the opera’s most famous scenes: “A Stroll in the Garden” and “Awakening from the Dream.” CTW’s The Peony Pavilion is an excellent introduction to a Chinese classic, performed by world-class opera performers.
The legendary adventures of Whitesnake, have been a staple in every genre of Chinese stage performance, including the classic Kun Opera. She is a unique character in Chinese literature and folklore, at once a powerful, mythical creature (a snake spirit) gifted with magical healing powers, an enterprising businesswoman, a romantic lover, wife, mother, and a fierce, implacable warrior.
CTW’s repertoire includes favorite scenes from the Kun Opera version including “Meeting at West Lake”, “Stealing the Heavenly Grass”, “At Gold Mountain Temple / Fighting in the Water” and “By the Broken Bridge”.